Tycoon who banned 'coloured' tenants blames lettings agent for public backlash
A buy-to-let tycoon has blamed a disgruntled lettings agency employee for thrusting him into the spotlight over his ban on "coloured" tenants - but insisted: "I do not apologise for it."
Fergus Wilson, 69, said the employee's motivation for leaking details of the ban was a mystery but that he had found support for his controversial decision.
Amid a public backlash, Mr Wilson refused to back down and said his stance was no different from his ban on letting his properties to smokers and dog owners.
Mr Wilson, long-regarded as Britain's biggest buy-to-let investor with hundreds of properties in Kent, has banned "coloured" people from renting his homes because he claims they leave them smelling of curry.
He said: "There has been much support for the stance I have taken. I do not apologise for it. Faced with the same circumstances, I would do it again."
The controversy was sparked by a leaked email listing Mr Wilson's requirements for potential tenants, including: "No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy."
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said Mr Wilson's instructions to the letting agent were "unlawful" and it pledged to investigate and ask him to explain his actions.
Hope Not Hate described Mr Wilson as "the unacceptable face of the housing crisis" and compared him to the racist bigot Alf Garnett from BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part.
But Mr Wilson said: "I am not racist and my beef is with curry, not with the colour of someone's skin. I have merely taken an economic decision.
"It is the same with dog owners and smokers. I do not feel able to take them."
Mr Wilson said "100%" of his properties in Maidstone housed Eastern European tenants, adding: "I can hardly be racist."
The landlord, who has also banned plumbers from renting his homes after claiming he had been ripped off in the past, said he was happy to rent to "negros" as "they haven't generated a curry smell at the end of the tenancy".
But he was "wary" of letting to Indians after losing more than £12,000 in rent and re-carpeting costs over a six-month period because one of his properties smelled of curry.
He said: "If you want to sell your house to a market mainly composed of white British purchasers, then you considerably reduce your chances of selling by having a house that smells of curry."
Mr Wilson said the leaked email with his controversial directive was from August last year, pre-dating his latest letting criteria for 2017 drawn up last December.
A Kent Police spokesman said: "Kent Police is aware of this issue and will be working to establish if any offences have taken place."